All Belgian Malinois Colors and Patterns Explained (With Pictures!)

Belgian Malinois colors and patterns

Aside from their intelligence, confidence, and versatility, Belgian Malinois is also loved because of their neat and noble appearance. Their short straight coat is well dignified with the variety of coat colors they have along with their signature black masking.

No wonder why a lot of people are interested in this breed’s coat colors and patterns – which I will be talking about in this article!

The American Kennel Club (AKC) listed five standard coat colors for the Belgian Malinois along with seven non-standard color variants. Generally, the standard coat colors are fawn, fawn sable, mahogany, red, and red sable. Along this comes their signature asset is their black masking.

If you are interested in Belgian Malinois and would like to know more about their coat colors and patterns, then you hit the jackpot! This article will provide you all of the essential information about all that and more!

Can You Identify a Purebred Belgian Malinois by Its Coat Color and Markings?

Technically, you cannot accurately identify a Belgian Malinois if it is purebred just by looking at it.

There may be instances that a purebred dog may not look like one because they have colors or markings brought about by genetic problems.

If you want to make sure that your dog is purebred, you should check its pedigree papers or pay for a DNA test.

Though you cannot use the coat color and markings as an accurate measurement for the dog’s purebred status, you can still use them in identifying whether they fit the standards set by kennel clubs!

Knowing the standards of the Belgian Malinois is quite essential as it has relative breeds which have the same personality, foundations, and bodily composition.

These are the Belgian Laekenois, Belgian Tervuren, and Belgian Groenendael – all of which belong to the dog herding group called Belgian Shepherd dogs.

The four breeds are closely akin to each other and the most significant thing that differentiates them is their coat color and markings.

What Are the Standard Colors of Belgian Malinois According to Different Kennel Clubs?

The following are the standard coat colors of the Belgian Malinois as prescribed by the American Kennel Club (AKC), Canadian Kennel Club (CKC), United Kennel Club (UKC), and Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI).

In the table, you might notice that some of the listed colors are just shade variations and are still the same.

Kennel ClubAcceptable Coat Colors for Belgian Malinois
American Kennel Club (AKC)Fawn, fawn sable, mahogany, red, red sable, black, brindle, cream, cream sable, gray, gray sable, and liver
Canadian Kennel Club (CKC)Any shade of fawn to mahogany, brindle, black, black with tan, blue fawn, grey fawn, and white
United Kennel Club (UKC)Fawn and sable (all the gamut of colors through beige to gray) with charcoaling
Federation Cynologique Internationale (FCI)Fawn with black overlay

Belgian Malinois Coat Color Description and Pictures

In this section, I will present to you the 12 coat colors of the Belgian Malinois breed as listed by the American Kennel Club (AKC).

Note that some colors are rarer than the others that’s why there are no available photos for them in this list.

Fawn Belgian Malinois

Fawn Belgian Malinois

Fawn color-coated Belgian Malinois have a fresh, neat, and soft look. Usually, the fawn coat has a yellowish tan color which can vary from light to darker shades.

Most Belgian Malinois are born with this shade so you’ll see them more often if you are looking for one.

The black masks of the Belgian Malinois which cover the mouth, nose, eye rims, and ears are more distinct if their color is fawn due to the lovely contrast of black and fawn. Review the photo above to visualize how they look!

Fawn Sable Belgian Malinois

Fawn sable Belgian Malinois

Fawn Sable Belgian Malinois tend to have a darker fawn shade than the fawn-coated Belgian Malinois. Usually, Mals with this kind of coat sport hair strands that are light fawn in the root which gets darker as it extends to the tip.

Mahogany Belgian Malinois

The mahogany coat is a reddish-brown shade. Mals can develop a coat that is within the gamut of mahogany tone ranging from light reddish-brown to dark mahogany.

The lightness and darkness of the shade will depend on the genes that break down the two basic color pigments of canine which are eumelanin (black) and pheomelanin (red).

Red Belgian Malinois

Red Belgian Malinois
Photo from (IG)

Red Malinois have a lighter coat color compared to the mahogany pups. Their red coat accentuates the black masking which is caused by an MC1R allele also known as the Extension [EM].

Red Sable Belgian Malinois

A red sable Belgian Malinois sports a rich red base coat due to its pheomelanin concentration.

However, their hair grows darker at the tips just like other sable dogs. The thicker and longer their hair is, the darker their color appears.

Black Belgian Malinois

Due to their magnificent appearance, black Belgian Malinois are in-demand although their coat is not a standard color as per the AKC. The black Belgian Malinois have a pure black body which extends to their signature black mask.

Brindle Belgian Malinois

Brindle is one of the most loved coat colors for Belgian Malinois – or should I say, for any dog breed!

It’s not just because of its rarity but also due to its adorable and peculiar appearance. Brindle is characterized by streaks of colors that are irregular and darker than the base color of the coat.

Cream Belgian Malinois

Cream is a common color that occurs in many other breeds, but not for Belgian Malinois.

The cream coat color is usually produced due to the absence of eumelanin. Belgian Malinois with this coat also have a distinct black mask that covers their nose, mouth, eye rims, and ears.

Cream Sable Belgian Malinois

When it comes to sable dogs, you need to remember that the hair on a dog’s body is lighter at the base than it is on the tip.

So if the base color of your Belgian Malinois is cream, you should expect that it darkens as it extends to the edge.

Blue or Gray Belgian Malinois

Gray is a dilution of the Belgian Malinois’ black pigment. This is quite rare which makes it even more valuable.

The appearance of gray Belgian Malinois sometimes tends to look a bit bluish, especially when they are puppies, so they are also called blue by other breeders.

Gray Sable Belgian Malinois

Similar to the red sable and cream sable, gray sable Belgian Malinois has a light base coat that is darker on the tips.

This gives their coat some sort of overlay appearance. Since their base is already gray, it is hard to identify them from the gray non-sable variety.

Liver Belgian Malinois

The liver color is caused by dilution of the eumelanin (black) pigment by the B locus. The gene that causes the liver coat to appear is recessive, so a BB or Bb dog has normal black pigment.

Liver Belgian Malinois can appear in shades of red, yellow, or cream depending on the intensity of the pheomelanin (red) pigment and it is impossible for them to develop gray hairs. All liver-coated dogs also have liver noses and amber eyes.

Male vs. Female Belgian Malinois: Which Gender Is Superior?

What Is the Rarest Color of Belgian Malinois?

You have already seen the varieties of coat colors Mals have. Now let’s talk about the rarest color of Belgian Malinois!

Brindle is considered to be the rarest color so far. This coat variety appears to be streaks of patterns that are irregular and darker than the base color of the coat.

It is rare in the sense that it is not an inherent trait of the Belgian Malinois breed to exhibit a brindle coat. This is usually seen in Dutch Shepherd and other working dogs.

So how does a Belgian Malinois become brindled? It is brought about by the genes of the “distant” ancestry of the Mal.

If the distant ancestors of the Mal were a mixed-breed of Belgian Malinois and other brindle dog breeds such as the Dutch and German Shepherds, there is a great possibility that the Mal will exhibit a brindle coat.

What Is the Most Common Color of Belgian Malinois?

The common colors of Belgian Malinois are usually the standard ones listed on AKC. Most of them are born in the gamut of rich fawn, mahogany, and red.

Aside from this fact, the black mask and overlay are prominent in the appearance of Mals regardless of color. The common tones I mentioned above should exhibit these features no matter what.

Again, the black masks should cover the muzzle, the eye rims, and the dogs’ pointed ears.

Belgian Malinois Coat Genetics: Why Do Belgian Malinois Have Different Colors?

Red Belgian Malinois color coat

The science behind the varying color of Belgian Malinois is a bit complex and broad but I will do my best to present it to you in the simplest way possible.

Two major pigments are produced by melanocytes which are responsible for each dog’s coat color. These two basic pigments that determine the color of canines are called eumelanin (black) and pheomelanin (red).

Now, you might be wondering if there are only two basic colors, where does the other color come from?

It has something to do with the genes! Genes process the eumelanin and pheomelanin in the dog’s body which alters their intensity and dilution resulting in different colors and patterns.

The existence of the common color of Belgian Malinois is often brought about by dilution genes and other alleles.

Sometimes, some breeding stocks are purposefully mated so their genes are combined to achieve certain colors. However, this is not suggested especially if this is the only purpose for breeding.

READ NEXT: 10 Best Belgian Malinois Breeders (2023): Our Top 10 Picks!

The Effect of Coat Color on Belgian Malinois Health and Behavior

A lot of people are asking if the coat color of a Belgian Malinois has something to say with its behavior. The answer is NO.

Although some colors can quite look fiercer and more aggressive, like the menacing appearance of a black Belgian Malinois, their coat color doesn’t define their temperament.

What dictates the behavior and overall disposition of a Belgian Malinois is its training and environment.

When it comes to the relationship of health and coat color of Mals, there are common health problems that arise due to genetic matters. An example of this is the Color Dilution Alopecia (CDA) which is a genetic disease that causes hair loss and skin problems.

This condition is associated with dogs who have what is called a “dilute” color so this is commonly seen in fawn or blue/grey color. The symptoms of CDA are not observable until the age of six months and this is not curable but can be managed.

Do Belgian Malinois Puppies Change Color When They Grow?

Belgian Malinois puppies do not change color when they grow just like with other dog breeds. The color of the puppies which is dictated by their genes is permanent and will not change over time.

So, if a Belgian Malinois was born with a fawn-colored coat, you can’t expect it to magically turn black or red.

The only thing that can possibly change on the dog’s coat when it matures is the shade or the lightness and darkness of the color. They might develop a thicker and shinier coat when they become fully grown but their coat color will remain the same.

How Much Does a Belgian Malinois Cost? (2023 Price Guide)

Belgian Malinois Eye and Nose Colors

The standard Belgian Malinois eyes as stated by the AKC should be brown (preferably dark brown), medium size, slightly almond-shaped, and not protruding. Meanwhile, their nose should be black without discolored areas.

This is not the case, however, for liver-coated Belgian Malinois. The Mals with liver coats develop a liver nose and amber eyes due to genetic variation.

Commonly Asked Questions

Fawn Belgian Malinois lying on stones

Belgian Malinois vs. German Shepherd: How Do They Differ?

It is not surprising why a lot of people mistake Belgian Malinois with German Shepherds. They have similar coats and most of all, heritage – herding dogs.

However, no matter how much they look alike, there are still significant differences that distinguish the two breeds. In general, Belgian Malinois and German Shepherds stand at the same height.

But when it comes to weight, the Belgian Malinois is considerably lighter than the German Shepherds. The ears of Belgian Malinois are also more triangular than the German Shepherds’ ears.

When it comes to personality, both breeds show supreme intelligence, protectiveness, and active character which make them perfect as working dogs.

Although in regards to activity level, Belgian Malinois is considered to be busier than German Shepherds. Nevertheless, you would not want to let this dog get bored as it could lead to trouble (sometimes, destruction!).

Are Belgian Malinois Hard to Train?

Belgian Malinois are naturally active and intelligent dogs which make training them easier– if you are a knowledgeable trainer, of course.

They naturally want to work and do different tasks and they have proven their worth as working dogs for K9 units.

Regular training and physical activities are a must for Belgian Malinois as they have superb energy levels.

If left unattended, they might get bored and do things to entertain themselves which most of the time include biting and chewing off stuff and wood!

Do Belgian Malinois Bark a Lot?

As a working dog breed, Belgian Malinois barks a lot just like German Shepherds. They are considered to be vocal breeds and they bark as their means of communication.

However, you can train them to bark on your command so they don’t resort to excessive barking.

Final Thoughts: Which Belgian Malinois Color Is Right for You?

In choosing the best Belgian Malinois color for you, the primary thing that you should check is which among the coat colors does not have any associated illnesses. The ones with genetic predisposition and problems due to their colors should be avoided.

The rarity of the color will also be the criteria you should consider. Rare coat colors tend to be more pricey than the other common coat colors.

If you don’t mind cashing out money, then you can freely choose whichever color you prefer even the rarest of them all.

However, you should always remember that no matter what the coat shade is, all Belgian Malinois deserve the same amount of care and attention. After all, bringing them home will surely make your life colorful no matter their coat color and pattern.


Rhonda February 8, 2022 - 10:42 pm

Question about skin color and PLEASE do not interpret this as racist. I’m just simply curious. We have an absolutely beautiful 6 month old Belgian Malinois. She’s somewhere between fawn and sable colored. Early on we noticed she has the cutest little black belly and thought, ‘that’s neat, never saw a black belly on a puppy.’ Then I noticed she has black armpits. It appears most, if not all her skin is black. I’ve had many dogs in my life, German Shepherds, Alaskan Malamutes, Labs, and Mutts, not to mention all the dogs I’ve pet and cuddled. I’ve never seen a dog with with black skin, only light colored. Is this unique to Belgian Malinois? Or are there other breeds from certain parts of the world that are darker? Just curious. Thanks very much.

Roel Centino April 29, 2022 - 2:14 pm

Do we really accept the brindle coat of Belgian?


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